Minister Malenica: Optimisation of local and regional self-government system is the first step towards change

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"In this project, in cooperation with the Institute of Economics, we have collected all data on local and regional self-government units. We have collected data on their management capacity, fiscal capacity and their development potential. This data is a prerequisite for designing quality public policies. Through the project, we have created a framework – a platform that will provide each unit with a tool for self-assessment of its capacities as well as its development", said Minister Malenica at the presentation of the project "Optimisation of the local and regional self-government system" in Šibenik.

Speaking about the territorial reorganisation of the Republic of Croatia, the Minister pointed out that all stakeholders agree that changes in local self-government are necessary, but that they cannot be implemented overnight, without an analytical approach, stakeholders or against citizens's will.

He stressed that the right to local self-government was guaranteed by the Constitution, and that any discussion on future organisation should also take into account the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.

"More important than the number of units is their efficiency, that is, readiness to respond to the needs of their citizens. The key to the success of a unit is the quality of the services it provides to citizens. The more optimal the service, the higher is its quality. This project and functional integration have offered each unit tools and financial incentives to optimise jobs, optimise services and work on the strategic development of regions", he said.

The Government of the Republic of Croatia has allocated about HRK 100 million in the budget for the functional integration of local units. A Decision on the criteria for granting support in the name of incentives for voluntary functional or actual amalgamation of local self-government units was adopted by the Government in July, and the Ministry of Finance opened a public call for proposals in mid-September.

"The adopted criteria are balanced, larger incentives will be given to municipalities that are smaller, have a smaller population and will be able to provide a better quality of service to their citizens through this functional integration. The intention behind this decision is to encourage all units to think about their development direction in the long term, to recognize the potentials that cooperation and functional integration can realise", the Minister said and urged cities and municipalities to take advantage of the opportunities given.

He added that the goal of the Government, through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, is to establish a quality system for the functional and actual amalgamation of units that will provide mechanisms of cooperation between municipalities, cities and counties to help them overcome possible problems of insufficient capacities, improve the quality and quantity of services provided and cooperate to manage the available funds more efficiently.

"These projects represent an opportunity for the Šibenik-Knin County to exploit its numerous potentials, in both the coastal area and the inland. Strategic development is based on cooperation and dialogue. It is therefore necessary for each municipality, each city to contribute", the Minister concluded.

Šibenik-Knin County Executive Marko Jelić pointed out that an open dialogue is necessary in discussions on the reform of local self-government. Local units should not be abolished but encouraged to cooperate and connect functionally to ensure better quality services.

Dean of the Polytechnic of Šibenik Ljubo Runjić highlihted that no reform can be implemented without the expertise of those dealing with public administration and that the academic community wants to be a constructive partner in the dialogue on local self-government reform.

Project manager Luka Krneta presented the general information about the project.

One of the key objectives of the project is the development of a Unified Information System for Collection and Storage of Data on Local and Regional Self-Government Units. The project will establish a Central Database on the Capacities of Local and Regional Self-Government Units.

The project is financed from the European Social Fund under the Operational Programme "Efficient Human Resources 2014-2022", and the total value of the project is HRK 20,076,342.14.